PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Freshwater lakes and ponds around Rhode Island are great spots for swimming, fishing and boating, but anyone doing so should be on the lookout for algae blooms.

Cyanobacteria, also known as blue-green algae, may pose a serious health risk to people and their pets because it can produce harmful toxins.

“This kind of spike is typical in the summer,” said Elizabeth Herron of URI’s Watershed Watch. “Spring’s warming weather drives the cyano blooms. The efficient bacteria love nothing better than a day in the warm water.”

Waterbodies with regular blooms tend to be most active in late summer and early fall, according to Herron, but blue-green algae blooms appear to be on the rise.

“Climate change is increasing water temperature in ponds and standing bodies of water. The challenge is that some bodies of water can have algal blooms and not be toxic, and some can look OK and be toxic,” Herron explained.

Herron said heeding signs and warnings can go a long way in helping to keep yourself and your pets safe.

Some tips to keep in mind:

  • Avoid water with a solid green texture that looks like paint or pea soup
  • Keep your pets out of any water that has algae, and stay off the shore as well
  • Avoid swimming in ponds or lakes that have high water levels

If you or your pet come into contact with contaminated water, immediately rinse with water and contact your health care provider or veterinarian.

If you see a suspected blue-green algae bloom, report it to the DEM’s Office of Water Resources at (401) 222-4700 or DEM.OWRCyano@dem.ri.gov.